Spatial biodiversity conservation measures are recognized by the Convention on Biological Di-versity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 and their Criteria for Other Effective Area-based Con-servation Measures (OECMs). ICES/ IUCN-CEM FEG Workshop on Testing OECM Practices and Strategies (WKTOPS) investigated how to evaluate areas with spatial fisheries measures in place as OECMs, aided by IUCN/CEM/FEG Guidance on OECMs in Fisheries. Six case studies from the North Atlantic were evaluated, differing in size, biodiversity features, types of measures in place, jurisdictional authority, and expected biodiversity benefits.
All six areas were found to meet subsets of the CBD Criteria and Sub-criteria for OECMs, and none were strongly at variance with any Criteria. The measures evaluated included permanent area closures, closures to specific gears or fisheries for particular stocks, and licensed uses of an area for aquaculture. All case studies were found to produce outcomes consistent with the intent of OECMs. However, WKTOPS noted that each case study had enabling conditions that were important for the effectiveness of the measures in delivering biodiversity outcomes to date. Also, some case studies documented noteworthy biodiversity benefits although the spatial measure was not adopted with the intent of producing the biodiversity outcome. Consequently, context is important to OECM evaluations.
The evaluations raised several questions about OECMs generally, and fisheries measures as tools in potential OECMs. Greater clarity is needed from the CBD on interpretation of the expected permanence of biodiversity benefits, the number of Criteria and Sub-criteria that have to be met, how jurisdictional authority is determined for an area, and how present and possible future ac-tivities of sectors other than fisheries should be considered when evaluating OECM status of areas with fisheries measures. It was also noted that no measure, including total prohibition of activity in an area, can benefit all biodiversity, so the nature and magnitude of expected biodi-versity benefits also needs clarification.
WKTOPS noted that its evaluations benefited from substantial preparatory work before the workshop. The Guidance Document being used was found to be of little incremental value in cases where substantial information on biodiversity and fisheries in an area had already been collated. However, as the amount of information and prior preparation decreased, the Guidance was increasingly useful.